MacBook getting slower?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by benderunit, Jul 5, 2006.

  1. benderunit macrumors newbie

    Jul 5, 2006
    Hello everyone!

    Got a new Macbook (white, 2 GHz) something like three weeks ago. Previously, I've been only using PCs so this is my first Mac ever. During the first two weeks, I have been well impressed with this computer. I was impressed at how well it ran even though it only had the stock 512 MB RAM. But recently, I have started getting the feeling that the machine has gone incredibly slow!

    What I mean is, for example, I start up Safari, and it takes almost forever (well, at least more than a minute!) just to load my personalized Google start page. But not only that, its also gotten extremely slow at tab switching. I've got the activity monitor running in the background (because it can display this nice animated CPU load diagram in the dock) and every once in a while I fire up its window to see what's happening. And what do I see? Safari is being marked as not responding while loading a webpage. Most often, it stays like this for a few minutes, then it suddenly comes back to life like nothing happened.

    Also, other apps tend to take immensely long just to show a dialog or something. I thought it was due to my low RAM, but the activity monitor always shows well above 100 MB as being inactive, which I learned from the forums, essentialley means the same as free.
    I'm starting to suspect the recent upgrade to OSX 10.4.7 to be responsible for this. Since I installed that, I also have the feeling that the activity monitor shows a much higher memory usage for all running processes. Before the upgrade, there were tons of processes which used even under 1 MB of RAM, now, there's not a single one of them left, every process is reported as using at least one Meg and a half. This is extremely frustrating (the slowdown, of course), as the machine right now makes me feel like I'm back working on a 386 running Windows 95.

    Has anyone else experienced such a slowdown since 10.4.7 or maybe even without installing it? What can I do to make my MacBook fast again? Do I have to upgrade to a Gig of RAM just to be able to work again smoothly?

    EDIT: forgot to add - when e.g. Safari is being slow, everything else will also stop from responding, even for example the speaker or brightness controls - when I use them, the OSD only appears 10-20 seconds late! I should also note that during the whole time, CPU usage stays pretty low so it's not like there's any serious calculations going on.
  2. maxi macrumors regular

    May 23, 2006
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Are you having any page-outs ?? that info is in the RAM part in activity monitor. Page outs are BAD. I have a new macbook with 512mb and know exactly what you are experiencing. Get more RAM now.
  3. remedya macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2006
    I find the 512mb RAM is insufficient as it uses part of the RAM as video memory. 1gb RAM is a nice size for normal use. Try flushing the cash in Safari.

    I wonder if your problems are associated with running Adobe Acrobat? I had terrible problems with running Adobe Acrobat Professional 7 as there is an incompatibility with Rosetta which can cause the MacBook to lock up or seem irresponsive.
  4. jamesW135 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 30, 2005
    Your just now seeing that 512 isn't alot of RAM you need more to do everyday tasks at a good speed.
  5. FragTek macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2006
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Yup this sounds like a classic issue of maxing out your RAM. These modern OS's and programs require quite a bit of space to spool to. Just adding another 512 should be more than enough of an upgrade for ya and won't cost you but $50 or so dollars. For a mere $160 you could go all out put in 2 gigs and never have to worry about your RAM running thin again.
  6. wkrm macrumors newbie

    Jul 5, 2006
    There are a few reasons why your MacBook seems to be running slower:

    Apple has advertised the new Intel-based computers as 4-5x faster. It can only do this if you have the maximum amount of RAM, which is 2GB. Also, if you are running applications that require a lot of graphics memory it takes it from you 512MB of RAM which can slow it down incredibly. Even without running applications with a lot of graphics, 512MB is still not enough RAM to operate at the speed it should. I reccomend at least ungrading to 1GB of RAM if not 2 GB.
  7. Scarlet Fever macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

    Jul 22, 2005
    i recommend replacing one of the stock 256MB sticks with a gig stick (1024+256 instead of 512+512). this gives you good performance, and also future proofing (if you decide you want 2GB, you only lose the other stock 256 stick).
  8. benderunit thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 5, 2006
    Well, I already thought about that and ordered 2 Gigs of Corsair ValueRAM just yesterday. Hope they will arrive soon. I knew that 512 MB was probably going to be a bit problematic performance-wise.

    However, I still don't understand why my MacBook has been quite usable when I first got it, even with just 512 MB and running several applications at once. Does the 10.4.7 upgrade turn OSX into a RAM eater or what? Also, this wasn't the only problem I had since the upgrade. Right after installing it and rebooting, my MacBook got stuck at the boot screen. I let it sit there like half an hour, suspecting that it was doing something after all, but nothing happened. Then I forced it off by pressing the power button for several seconds. When I switched it on again, it was booting normally - I didn't even get a warning that it wasn't shut down cleanly. Is that normal behaviour after upgrading to 10.4.7? Could have something to do with my problems?

    Also, I should note that I have been rebooting the machine very seldomly. When I don't use it, I just close the lid and let it sleep. I find that pretty convenient, since then it's immediately available when I need it. After posting my message yesterday, I rebooted, and now it seems to be back to normal (i.e. usable). Is the sleep mode causing these slowdowns? Or does OSX performance degrade so badly after several hours of uptime?
  9. vandozza macrumors 6502a


    Jun 14, 2006
    sorry if this is stating the obvious, and incorrect but...

    i think its possible that you are not actually quitting the applications that you have been using. if you have been using the red circle to close the applications, then (most likely) you have not been actually quitting the programs.
    (only a few programs actually quit with the red button - calculator for example.)

    in your dock any open application will show a small black triangle underneath its icon, this indicates that the program is still running. (and taking up some resources.)

    this would explain why its much faster/more responsive after a reboot, but quickly gets bogged down.

    to quit applications use the file -> quit option, or use the apple key (command) and Q (CMD-Q)

    maybe this was helpful? i dont know. but its a common mistake that many switchers make.

  10. benderunit thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 5, 2006
    You're right, it could have been a possible explanation, but sorry, it isn't. It did confuse me at first, but I soon found out that some applications continue running after you close all their windows. After all, there's still the dock icon that continues to show... So I did find out about this pretty fast and so when I was writing I don't have a lot of applications running I mean just that - i.e. right know I'm closing most applications using Apple+Q when I know I don't need them anymore.

    But there might be another explantion: I just realized that before rebooting, I have used this Ext2 reading tool which seems to be kinda experimental. And even though I had unmounted the ext2 partition I had been using (on a USB disk), it still continued to show in the Finder's sidebar. Could that explain such a big slowdown?
  11. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    There's no problem to fix. This is normal.

    I don't really want to explain it because it would take too long, but lets just say that if you log out and log back in, or when you reboot, you're freeing all the RAM so that it's all available. If you open an app, RAM is reserved for that program. If you open 6-7 programs, then the RAM is shared between all the apps opened. If you close a program but don't "quit" a program completely (ie: there's still an arrow underneath that program's icon in the taskbar at the bottom), you're not using the RAM, but the RAM is never freed unless another application is absolutely dying for RAM. If you properly quit those programs, the RAM is still not completely freed. It takes a while before it's completely freed from the apps you closed down because OSX doesn't like leaving RAM entirely inactive. Even if you don't need it, you may as well keep the RAM with the app you just quit, since there's no point having it just sit there.

    This isn't an entirely accurate description, but it does give you an idea of how OSX manages RAM. This is why people tell you not to pay too much attention to Activity Monitor. Just because OSX says it's using RAM, doesn't mean it's actually being used. It may not be doing anything other than waiting around for an action to be performed by an application you just quit.

    So yes, restarting does free up all the RAM entirely, and you will notice that your computer is faster than it is later on.

    See above.
  12. Maxwell Smart macrumors 6502a

    Maxwell Smart

    Jan 29, 2006
    Good luck with the RAM. I heard some bad things on the newegg comments about corsair incompatibilities which surprised me because they have always been such a top-notch PC RAM supplier. In anycase I decided to go with 2GB of patriot of mine which had the lifetime warranty. Good luck with your purchase though, with 2GB of ram, this really flies ;)
  13. benderunit thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 5, 2006
    Well, that wasn't helpful at all! You might want to read the post that you replied to again, and you'll see that I DID CLOSE applications I wasn't using. Yes, by using Apple+Q. Yes, the black arrow disappeard (or the icon itself, too, when the appliation wasn't in the dock before I started it). So I think it's perfectly normal to expect that the once-used-and-now-available-for-other-use-RAM will at some point later on be used again by other applications that might need it, and it will not just continue sitting there, being completely useless, no?

    So you're saying, when using OSX, each time I start an application and QUIT it again, there'll be inevitably some chunk of RAM left that the application was using and that'll never be completely freed again and all I can do about it is restarting the computer in order to ensure that all my RAM will be completely usable by applications again? Come on, were not talking about Win'95 here, are we? For a ten-year-old MS OS I can accept such a behaviour, but not for a state-of-the-art UNIX based OS that touts itself as the most advanced desktop OS in the world!
    After all, Windows doesn't suffer from this problem anymore ever since Windows 2000, and Linux never had it at all (at least not since I've been using it).
  14. prawnballs macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2006
    I've also noticed strange behaviour from my Macbook since upgrading to 10.4.7. Sometimes now programs don't open properly and I am forced to force quit the program and reboot my mac. Once rebooted it will work fine. The problem is now that I am forced to reboot two or three times a day. I never had a problem until the update.

    I have a 1.83 1gb ram Macbook by the way. Other than this the macbook is great!
  15. conditionals macrumors regular

    May 5, 2005
    No, no, you've got it all wrong. You flush the drugs, not the cash.
  16. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    It's spelled Cache, not cash...

    That does NOT sound like a RAM issue at all. Why do I say that? Because I used to use a G4 with 256 megs of RAM. Now, I don't really care what others say, that's 1/2 the RAM you have, I never had issues like that, and you're probably not using any rosetta apps.

    Anywho... The first thing I would do is try repairing permissions. I'm surprised no one's said that yet, but it really can help, especially if you had to kill your computer during an update. If that doesn't help any (there's a pretty chance it won't) boot off your system CD and check the hard drive for errors, and use a system utility such as Onxy or NASU to clean up the OS X caches.

    Quite honestly, I'm amazed that people are writing paragraphs explaining why you need more RAM, when it doesn't sound like a RAM problem at all. It sounds more like the hangs that I occasionally get in XP...Granted those 2 gig sticks will be a very nice improvement, and may fix the issue, spending money shouldn't be the answer.

    P.S. If you get kernel panics with the value ram, return it for regular RAM...OS X is picky about the RAM you use...
  17. brbubba macrumors 6502


    May 20, 2006
    I recall reading that Apple recommends against this due to the dual channel memory system. While normally the performance benefit is marginal, they claim that it can considerably help due to the shared memory for graphics. Haven't seen anyone actually test this yet though.
  18. benderunit thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 5, 2006
    Well, I not as far as I know. At least in the application monitor, it says "Intel" next to all processes, EXCEPT one which is called "translate". I don't know which app that belongs to as it doesn't have an icon or anything, so I suppose this might be some kind of system process that has to do with Rosetta? Is it normal that this process is running? Anyways, I don't suspect it could affect performance, since it's using less than 4 MB and CPU usage is always at 0%.

    What's all that with the "repair permissions" anyways? Why (and how?) do they get damaged anyways? As far as I have understood it, OSX is using the same permission system as Linux (i.e. the basic UNIX one), and in Linux, I never had to "repair" them (wouldn't know how, anyways). Could they be damaged already after only about 3 weeks of medium usage? And if so, how do I do that anyways?

    Well, as far as I understood from Corsair's website, this IS regular RAM, isn't it? In fact it seems to be the only laptop RAM they make! And it also has lifetime warranty. I just bought it because it wasn't as expensive as most of the other stuff. In the store where I ordered it, the only cheaper RAM was made by MDT, which I've never heard of. But Corsair seems to be a reputable company, no?
  19. Electro Funk macrumors 65816

    Electro Funk

    Dec 8, 2005
    The Opium Garden
    i have 2 gigs of ram in my macbook... safari used to open in one bounce and immediaetly load a page (even with the stock 512 it came with).... after the 10.4.7 update... safari bounces 4-6 times before opening a page.... :(
  20. benthewraith macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    Miami, FL
    Wow, that's interesting. I get either one bounce or two. But because I hardly ever turn off my computer, um, yeah....

    I'd try disabling senseless graphic stuff, and you might even think about disabling Dashboard. You might get the RAM you need. :)
  21. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    Just so you don't feel alone, I also don't like all the automatic "buy more RAM" answers to seemingly every performance-related question around here. I am always especially suspicious of another issue when someone reports a degradation in performance. This suggests that a change has occurred. To diagnose a problem like this, you need to find what has changed since the problem appeared (the 10.4.7 update?), and not automatically suspect what has stayed the same (RAM).
  22. tivoboy macrumors 68040

    May 15, 2005
    bookmarks in safari cause slowdown

    checkout macosxhints for a work around

    apparently, there is an issue when people load up on bookmarks in safari, so the performance could indeed degrade a bit over time. Work around is pretty much to put things in folders.
  23. Electro Funk macrumors 65816

    Electro Funk

    Dec 8, 2005
    The Opium Garden
    hmmmmm .... interesting, i will try this... i have plenty of ram free so that should not be a problem.... as of now i have 1381MB free of ram and i still get a few bounces.... funny thing is it never happend until the latest update...
  24. Scarlet Fever macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

    Jul 22, 2005
    I think the gain in performance is more due to the extra RAM available ie 2GB (1+1) will perform better than 1.5GB (1GB+512MB) because of the extra 512 there. Even if there is a benefit, as most people say, they also say that its only around 7-10%, which in most cases, wouldn't be noticed. I don't deny that there is a performance gain, i just think its not enough to have a major impact on the performance of the computer.
  25. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Yes it was, since I explained to you what's going on.

    And closing a program, and QUITTING a program on a Mac are 2 different things. I skimmed the posts and saw you use the word "close" and answered based on that. Oh well, sorry for "not being helpful at all." You don't even deserve help, and yet here we are --- helping you. Funny how it works, isn't it? :rolleyes:

    Once you quit a program that you're not using anymore, it will assign that RAM to another program, but not until you try starting up another program. It may be initially slow to open, but once it's open the app should run fine. If it doesn't, you don't have enough RAM for that app to use. It really depends on what you QUIT, and what you opened immediately afterwards. For example, closing iCal and opening up a 4000 photo library in iPhoto will result in your computer acting somewhat slow initially (if you already taxed all the RAM in your system), especially when I try editing one photo in full screen mode. Every subsequent photo I try to edit after that 1st one will run fine if quitting freed enough RAM. If it's slow, then it's because of the process I already described to you --- that, and the fact that you don't have enough RAM. If you had more RAM, the way OSX handles RAM wouldn't be a problem at all.

    Using your HD space as RAM is way slower than RAM. RAM acts around 50x faster than using your HD, which is what OSX/Windows will do if the system doesn't have enough RAM.

    No, you don't need to. Just quit an app or 2 and start up another app. It might be fast, or it might be slow on occasion, but it shouldn't be slow if quitting the apps freed enough RAM for your new program to use.

    It's not 2001 anymore. Computers need at least 512 MB of RAM, if not more. If he had a MBP with 512MB of RAM, I'm sure it'd run better than his MB with 512MB. I mean, 512MB for all his apps + Rosetta simulating a PPC environment + integrated graphics that takes up 80 MB?

    You never had Rosetta to worry about, or the integrated graphics processor, or these new iLife apps that tend to use up more RAM, not less.

    Easiest method to see if it's a RAM issue:

    1. Go into the TERMINAL program (Applications>Utilities>Terminal)
    2. Type the word: top
    3. Close the terminal window and open another one.
    4. Open another terminal window up.
    5. Type uptime.

    Report both numbers here.

    You don't need to repair permissions, but it sure does help. In Unix, you need to repair permissions. Same with Linux. However, you need to repair permissions if you install applications. I mean a "real" install.....not just drag and drop into the Applications folder. Applications where you only have to drag the application into the Apps folder are great......... you don't need to repair permissions. However, if you're installing an application that has it's own install file, then repairing permissions can occasionally fix some problems.

    Just repair and see what happens, although I doubt it'll fix the problem if his problem seems to go away at startup.

    Have a problem with Safari? Have you tried Camino or Firefox? Maybe that'll solve the problem? Camino is one of the best browsers anyway. It's not a step backwards or anything.

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